Last month, I had the privilege of attending the Greenville Early College Opening Celebration at the University Center of Greenville. The Early College is a program that was specifically designed to meet the educational needs of about 40 rising sixth graders in a personalized learning environment that provides the skills and tools to assist them toward becoming the first in their families to attend college.

Teamwork makes the dream work.

This is the slogan of the Greenville Early College and it was reiterated several times during the opening celebration. Teamwork does make the dream work and the Early College is a proof of that statement. Greenville Early College is a partnership between Greenville County Schools, Clemson University, Furman University, USC Upstate, and the University Center of Greenville. In addition, the Greenville Early College has received significant support and investment from partners including Michelin North America, the Community Foundation of Greenville, the Hollingsworth Foundation, the Jolley Foundation, the Symmes Foundation, and United Way of Greenville County.

The Early College Program will expand by a grade each year until serving sixth through twelfth graders. Once in high school, students will have the opportunity to enroll in dual credit classes to earn college credit. Students also have access to an after-school tutoring program led by University instructors for assistance in reading, math, and enrichment activities. During the school year, students will experience the “College Connection” where each semester they will visit college campuses and engage in enrichment and academic activities.

It was both emotional and exciting to meet some of the Early College students and their parents and hear their personal stories. Even though, each story was different and unique, all students had something in common to say to the supporting partners who attended the ceremony: “Thank you for investing in my present and in my future.”

The event concluded with two parents speaking on how this program has not only changed their children’s lives, but their own as well. As Mark Joseph, the principal of the Early College said,

There is nothing like being able to see a dream turn into a reality.